Saturday, June 30, 2018

Senate passes Lombardi bill that criminalizes the forced isolation of an elder or dependent adult

Sen. Frank S. Lombardi
STATE HOUSE — The State Senate today passed legislation introduced by Sen. Frank S. Lombardi (D-Dist. 26, Cranston) that would make it a crime to keep an elder or dependent adult in forced isolation.

The Peter Falk Criminal Isolation of Elders Act (2018-S 2421Aaa) would criminalize isolation of an elder or dependent adult and would provide that certain notification requirements be fulfilled on behalf of elder persons or dependent adults.

“It has become a common problem,” said Senator Lombardi. “Some adult guardians will isolate those they’re supposed to protect in order to retaliate against families who complain or for more nefarious reasons.  This legislation would protect adults who may be unable to express their preferences due to physical or mental condition. It effectively makes it a crime to keep elders in isolation.”

Catherine Falk
The act is named after the late Peter Falk, best known for portraying Lieutenant Columbo on television. His daughter, Catherine Falk, is a national activist for guardianship reform and elder abuse awareness.

Last year, she testified in favor of a law sponsored by Senator Lombardi and Rep. Brian Patrick Kennedy (D-Dist. 38, Hopkinton, Westerly) that passed by the General Assembly that provides persons under limited guardianship, guardianship and conservatorship with rights designed to protect them from mental, physical and financial abuse by their guardians and conservators.

Falk, who created a national organization to work on the visitation rights for individuals (, watched how her father brought his mother’s caretaker to justice in New York for financial exploitation when the caretaker was supposed to look after her grandmother but instead abused her emotionally and financially. Peter Falk worked with the District Attorney’s office to press criminal charges for elder abuse and financial exploitation, and made a public service announcement about elder abuse.

Under the provisions of the proposed legislation, any person convicted of abuse or isolation of an elder or dependent adult would be guilty of a felony and be imprisoned up to three years or fined up to $3,000 or both. The act also changes the definition of “elder” from anyone over the age of 65 to anyone over the age of 60.

The measure, which is cosponsored by Senators Erin Lynch Prata (D-Dist. 31, Warwick, Cranston), Stephen R. Archambault (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, North Providence, Johnston), Senate Minority Leader Dennis L. Algiere (R-Dist. 38, Charlestown, South Kingstown, Westerly) and Frank A. Ciccone III (D-Dist. 7, Providence, North Providence), now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903

Full Article & Source:
Senate passes Lombardi bill that criminalizes the forced isolation of an elder or dependent adult

Commonwealth of Virginia’s Office of the Attorney General Friend or Foe?

(Family members may not want to view). THE FOLLOWING IS ONLY PART OF WHAT THEY DID TO MY SISTER!

The Office of the Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Virginia supposedly conducted an “investigation” into Anastasia’s death. The investigator sent me the following letter stating they found no evidence of abuse or neglect and therefore were closing their investigation. Additionally the Commonwealth is attempting to rule Anastasia’s death an “accident”.



 Hmmm, I am not a cop (Anastasia was) but how in the blue blazes do you come up with a finding of no abuse or neglect when someone suffer injuries such as those below? Sounds like a sham kangaroo investigation to me because the following injuries look like criminal neglect to me. Bare in mind the below images are only a couple of the numerous injuries that my precious sister Anastasia suffered while under the control of Inova’s guardians.

WARNING THIS POST CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES! (Family members may not want view)______________________________The Office of the…

Full Article & Source:
Commonwealth of Virginia’s Office of the Attorney General Friend or Foe?
Warning:  The source link contains very graphic images.  

Senate panel looks to fund Alzheimer's research and resources

WASHINGTON – Public health leaders and caregivers coalesced Tuesday behind an effort to focus attention and funding on Alzheimer’s disease.

There was no dissent among the witnesses or the members of the Senate Special Committee on Aging about the need for more resources such as those called for in legislation introduced by U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nevada.

Their bill would authorize $37 million annually to establish resource centers across the country, to enhance public-private partnerships, and to improve data collection on the incurable brain disease.

The Building Our Largest Dementia Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act – or BOLD Act – is an important step toward finding a cure, said U.S. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, the committee’s ranking Democrat. He said the centers will particularly help rural Americans who need better access to resources.

Although there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, early diagnosis and intervention can be cost-effective and can help patients and their caregivers live better lives, testified Pennsylvania Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne.

Better investment will afford Alzheimer’s patients “the opportunity to age in place in the setting of their choice with their friends and family with the dignity and respect that they deserve,” she said.

She also asked Congress to fund training and resources for first responders who can assist disoriented Alzheimer’s patients like the one another witness described.

Cheryll Woods-Flowers of Mount Pleasant, S.C., whose father died of Alzheimer’s in February, said his diagnosis came at age 70, shortly after he disappeared from home. Seven hours later he was found hungry, lost and crying.

He lived 16 more years with the disease, said his daughter, who is grateful for the early diagnosis that gave her and her five siblings time to talk through decisions, understand his wishes and get him on medication that reduced the severity of his symptoms.

Actress Marcia Gay Harden, whose mother, Beverly, has Alzheimer’s disease, said coping would have been easier if the BOLD Act already were in place.

“I wish we’d had BOLD,” because it would have provided specific resources directing them where to turn for resources about everything from finances to dietary needs of patients.

“Alzheimer’s becomes a stealthy thief, robbing families of their finances and security and forcing its victims to live only in the moment,” she said because it causes memories to evaporate.

Witnesses said they want Congress to pass the BOLD Act along with additional investments in Alzheimer’s research and education.

The current year’s appropriation is $1.8 billion – an increase of $414 million over last year, according to Aging Committee staff. Mr. Casey would like to see that funding reach $2 billion.

“Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias are among the greatest public health challenges facing older Americans,” Mr. Casey said. “As our population ages, the number of people living with the disease and their caregivers will only grow.”

Full Article & Source:
Senate panel looks to fund Alzheimer's research and resources

Friday, June 29, 2018

Judge Griffen rips Human Services for refusing to use nurses to assess disabled

Bradley Ledgerwood
Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen has again ripped the state Human Services Department for resisting his orders to assess homecare needs of the disabled by nurses rather than an algorithm.

After hearing arguments, Griffen made official his earlier finding that the state was in contempt of his order not to use a computer algorithm. He imposed punishment and orders to comply with earlier rulings, including referral of DHS attorneys to the Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct for potential discipline.

The judge ordered the state to:

* Compile the number of people assessed by registered nurses before the algorithm method was begun Jan. 1, 2016./

* Compile the number of people it had failed to personally assess since Feb. 7, 2017, when the court first found the state out of compliance. The state tried to pass an "emergency" rule to use the new method, known as a RUG, but the judge has found that was just a sham and that no emergency existed.

* He ordered a monthly report, by name, filed under seal of those who the state had failed or refused to reassess by a nurse.

* DHS counsel Richard Rosen and David Sterling (the one-time Republican candidate for attorney general and now a candidate for Arkansas Supreme Court) were referred to the Supreme Court Committee
"for determination whether they possess the requisite legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary to represent DHS in complying with the permanent injunction entered in this litigation."
The judge said he intended to retain jurisdiction over the dispute.

His order was biting and harshly critical. "Imbecilic" was one word he employed in discussing state legal arguments.

He blistered the state for asserting it could not continue personal assessments of disabled because the judge had barred the algorithm method until it had fully complied with the administrative procedures act by having a full hearing on the new standard, which plaintiffs say will result in arbitrary reductions of needed care.
That declaration is the latest example of DHS defiance of the permanent injunction, its callous disregard for the rule of law, and its calculated disingenuous representations to this court, the disabled community it is legally obligated to serve and the general public
I'm seeking a reaction from DHS.

Here's the judge's full order.

He says the state "fabricated" an emergency to avoid following the prevailing law that requires personal assessments. He called "preposterous" the state's assertion that it had halted assessments to comply with his earlier injunction against using the algorithm. The state's theory seems to be that it has no approved method if the new method isn't usable. But the judge said the state had made no showing that it had attempted to clarify that point with the federal government or otherwise provide a showing why it couldn't continue with past practices. Except that it didn't want to do so.

UPDATE: From Amy Webb at DHS:

We plan to comply with the Judge's ruling, which we are reviewing.

The backlog of assessments:

Assessments for people waiting for services — 1,116

Re-assessments of current beneficiaries — 1,377
Full Article & Source:
Judge Griffen rips Human Services for refusing to use nurses to assess disabled

Twin County elder abuse task force aims to help isolated seniors

Tannersville Village Mayor Lee McGunnigle announcing the ‘Safe at Home’ committee at the Mountain Top Library, June 14

TANNERSVILLE — Village Mayor Lee McGunnigle unveiled Greene County’s first Safe at Home task force Thursday to prevent elder abuse, spurred by painful cases of exploitation in his family.

The Safe at Home task force is a multi-disciplinary advocate group to prevent elder abuse by providing local resources, planning guides and prevention services. The program was created to be a liason between elder care services and community members and to fill in service gaps to allow residents to live and die with dignity, McGunnigle said Thursday at the committee unveiling presentation, which was held at the Mountain Top Library on Main Street.

The advisory council to the Columbia County Office of the Aging has developed Safe at Home over the past two years, said advisory council chair Joyce Thompson, 81.

“It’s a circle of services that represents the things people need to prepare as they age,” she said, such as installing bars in the bathrooms. “What would you do if you couldn’t go to the second floor? I’ve personally been through two falls in the last 15 months, and it becomes a crisis.”

The task force includes officer Ryan Schrader, with the Greene County Sheriff’s Department and Hunter police; Erica Bain, of Hunter Ambulance; the Rev. Karen Monk, with Kaaterskill United Methodist Church; attorney Kathryn Salensky; Ed Cloke, former Greene County district attorney from 1996 to 2000; Robin Dumont, village clerk; and deputy village clerk Kathy Van Valkenburg.
Task force members are in training and plan to compile a resource guide for residents.

“I’ve seen scams and elder abuse as a practicing attorney,” said Cloke, 75, of Catskill. “The task force is a matter of education and prevention.”

Greene County has one of the highest elder populations in the state, he said.

“I urge early planning, and cooperative, comprehensive planning with many, many people that you trust,” McGunnigle said. “If you don’t, when an emergency happens, the predator may show up.”

The mayor’s advocacy began with vulnerability and exploitation with two cases in his family, he said Thursday.

“We were not prepared, as a family, for mental illness and the special challenges that presented,” McGunnigle said, referring to his disabled sister-in-law, Susan G. Vosilla, who passed away at age 54.

“I believe it exposed us to exploitation,” he added.

In 2016, the McGunnigle family was embroiled in a case of alleged elder abuse and fraud involving Vosilla and one of the former owners of the Villa Vosilla boutique. The family alleges Vosilla died prematurely in 2010 after the neglect of Anthony Bucca, her attorney and guardian.

Bucca “assured Susan’s family that Susan was being well cared for with the $430,000 that comprised the bulk of Susan’s assets,” according to a petition filed on by the McGunnigle family.

The family alleged “Bucca neglected to provide Susan necessary medical treatment, which was covered under her health insurance policy, while assuring Doria and her family that her sister Susan was well-cared for,” according to the petition

The issue is in litigation, McGunnigle said Thursday. He declined to comment on the pending case.

McGunnigle’s mother-in-law, Nattalina Vosilla, was financially exploited and lost $236,000 to a bank with the early onset of dementia, he said after the presentation.

“I didn’t have the resources to recognize what was going on,” McGunnigle said.

“We’ve become advocates due to the tragedy in our own family,” said Doria Vosilla, the mayor’s wife and Nattalina Vosilla’s daughter. “We’re working together with other advocates around the country to expose predators, and to educate, inform and prevent the exploitation of the vulnerable.

“It’s heartbreaking because every time someone tells me their story, I relive my own horror,” she added.

Isolated people in rural communities can be easy targets, said attorney Kathryn Salensky, founder of the mid-Hudson elder abuse prevention project George’s Justice, which is named for her father.

“The scams get more personal the more rural you are,” Salensky said after the presentation, noting cases in Greene and southern Columbia counties, including Gallatin. “In the mountaintop community, this kind of program is vital. My father lived on a 200-acre farm, was a recent widower — those kinds of things make you very tasty to a potential predator.”

Advocacy also presents an opportunity for business and employment, Thompson said, noting seniors need services including transportation and lawn care.

“I’ve been doing this work for over 20 years, working with Alzheimer’s, dementia and Parkinson’s patients,” Nichole Dstewart said while fighting back tears.

Dstewart is an in-home aid at Hearthsone Care in Catskill.

“I think the biggest issue is, it’s not fair they have to give up their homes,” she said. “These are people that have worked hard and contributed a lot to society.”

Many seniors won’t ask for or accept help for fear of ending up in a nursing home, said Columbia County Safe at Home member Michele Kraham, 59.

With family members living around the country, kids are often shocked to visit their parents and find they haven’t been honest about their living conditions, she said.

“It’s hard to lose your independence,” Kraham said. “In a city, you have mass transit, but in the country, you’re isolated and that’s where the whole exploitation piece comes in.”

Full Article & Source:
Twin County elder abuse task force aims to help isolated seniors

State finds neglect in Aitkin assisted living facility

Failure to correctly monitor the blood sugar levels of a diabetic assisted living resident in Aitkin amounted to neglect, the Minnesota Department of Health concluded.

Golden Horizons in Aitkin was the site of a March investigation determining the home care provider failed to comply with hospital orders to increase the number of blood sugar checks on an unidentified resident. The resident—a Type 2 diabetic with dementia—went to the hospital several times with high blood sugar before ultimately dying, a death partially attributed to diabetes and its complications. The state's Office of Health Facility Complaints reported its findings Tuesday, June 19.

"Based on a preponderance of evidence, neglect is substantiated," the report stated. "The home care provider failed to implement hospital orders for increased monitoring of the client's blood sugars and therefore had insufficient information to provide to the client's physician when requesting changes to the client's insulin regimen."

A month after the resident was admitted to Golden Horizons, they showed elevated blood sugar. Within five days, the resident's blood sugar reached 540, a level at which they were unresponsive. At the hospital, the resident received a diagnosis of diabetic coma, and the hospital ordered blood sugar checks be increased from once to four times daily.

Evidence collected by the MDH investigator showed nursing staff failed to follow this directive, however, despite acknowledgement of the change in a note written by a nurse. Three additional hospital visits followed, including one for a broken clavicle attributed in part to the resident's lethargy brought on by high blood sugar.

Ten days after the hospital ordered the additional tests, the assisted living facility had yet to implement the regimen, the report stated. On the 11th day, records showed blood sugar testing was completed three times a day—although the provider failed to document the amount of insulin the resident received or the number of carbohydrate grams consumed in meals.

Elevated blood sugar remained an issue for the resident, records showed, and the final hospital stay indicated the resident was experiencing kidney failure. The resident was placed in hospice care after a four-day hospitalization, and died one week later.

As part of the investigation, a family member of the client said they were unaware of the incorrect procedures, but noted they thought staff provided good care and managed their family member's behavioral needs well.

Interviews with nurses at the facility pointed toward staffing issues as the culprit responsible for neglectful care.

"There was many transitions of new nurses starting and the primary nurse leaving," the report stated. "The primary nurse was completing training with new nurses and other nurses were going back and forth between two of the home care provider locations. Work was not assigned to any particular nurse and work was completed by whichever nurse came across it."

The lack of insulin reports was explained by technical issues with an electronic monitoring system, according to the report.

State law defines neglect as "the failure or omission by a caregiver to supply a vulnerable adult with care or services, including but not limited to, food, clothing, shelter, health care or supervision" or "the absence or likelihood of absence of care or services ... necessary to maintain the physical and mental health of the vulnerable adult, which a reasonable person would deem essential to obtain or maintain the vulnerable adult's health, safety or comfort."

According to records maintained by MDH, Golden Horizons in Aitkin was the subject of three other investigations yielding a substantiation of claims. In October 2016, a case involving multiple falls by a resident resulted in a neglect determination. Two investigations took place in October 2014: one involved inadequate supervision of residents, resulting in one injuring another, and the second investigation found a staff member abused two residents by forcing their movements and causing pain. The staff member was fired.

Five other Golden Horizons locations are in Crosslake, Preston, Sandstone, Worthington and Ida Grove, Iowa. None of the other Minnesota facilities, operated under the same comprehensive home care provider license, show substantiated investigations, according to the MDH database.

According to the company's website, the facilities are managed by Pequot Lakes-based KC Companies Inc. Chuck Lane, co-owner of KC Companies Inc., was reached by phone Wednesday and he asked for more time before commenting. A Thursday phone interview was scheduled with Lane, but he did not answer his phone nor returns calls.


When this story was first printed, Golden Horizons in Aitkin was referred to as a nursing home. The facility is considered an assisted living facility, rather than a nursing home.

The Dispatch regrets the error.

Full Article & Source:
State finds neglect in Aitkin assisted living facility

Thursday, June 28, 2018

This 87-year-old D.C. woman just made it easier for you to keep your independence

The 87-year-old wore a silk dress she had sewn herself. The bright blue fabric featuring yellow, turquoise and lavender flowers pulled at the eyes, and against it, the pale pink stones of her necklace seemed a conservative choice. But that’s not why she wore it.

With a smile, she explained that she had picked the beads less for the statement they made than for the promise they held.

“They’re supposed to help you get a boyfriend,” she said, laughing.

When the woman tells people she is not far from 90, they show genuine surprise. She has not yet let her hair turn white and she speaks with a well-earned wit. She also takes care of most of her needs by herself, getting dressed on her own, taking the right amount of medications as needed and making appointments that she gets to herself by using public transportation. She recently enrolled in a college class after deciding she wants to learn Italian.

Each of these details matters, because it speaks not only to her personality but also to her capabilities. Despite all that, she was deemed an “incapacitated individual” — unable to make choices for herself. But that changed this month.

The octogenarian is the first senior citizen in the District to convince a court to terminate a guardianship placed on her in favor of “supported decision-making.” She and her attorneys successfully argued that with help from people in her life, she could make her own decisions and did not need a court-appointed guardian to do that for her.

Guardianship is often associated with people who develop or are born with intellectual disabilities. But this case shows why it should matter to everyone. As we age, and the lucky among us will, we all risk losing what we value most: the ability to choose how we live.

Putting legal protections in place will ensure that we have to give that up only when it is absolutely necessary.

“I felt very annoyed by having someone else taking care of everything,” said the woman, who for privacy reasons spoke on the condition that she be identified only by her middle name, Dolores. “I am the boss. I can do whatever I need to do.”

Her case marks the first time that the District’s supported decision-making law, which was passed in May, has been cited in court to help a resident regain independence. Most of us have friends or relatives we turn to for advice. This is the same as that — but more. The D.C. law formalizes those relationships and requires institutions and organizations to recognize the role of people who serve in those supportive positions. The District is only the fourth jurisdiction in the country to pass the law, after Texas, Delaware and Wisconsin. (Virginia and Maryland — are you listening?)+

“You’re a pioneer in many ways,” Morgan Whitlatch, the legal director for Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities, which handled Dolores’s case, told her recently as we sat in her apartment in Northwest Washington. “You weren’t scared to fight.”

“I had to fight against everybody,” Dolores replied.

In 2015, Dolores was facing possible eviction from a subsidized senior building after falling behind on her rent, according to court documents. Her landlord agreed to work out a payment plan if she was assigned a guardian to help her with her finances, and so she agreed to one.

But once she regained financial stability, she asked her guardian to file a letter with the court saying she no longer needed him. When she realized he failed to do that, she went to the court on her own and wrote a complaint.

She also called AARP, and the organization directed her to Quality Trust.

Years earlier, Quality Trust had handled a case in which the stakes also involved an individual’s independence. A 29-year-old woman with Down syndrome named Margaret “Jenny” Hatch had fought in a Virginia court against a guardianship request by her parents. They wanted her to remain in a group home, supervised and protected. She wanted to move in with friends and continue working at a thrift shop they owned.

When the judge denied her parents’ guardianship request in August 2013, Jenny cried and exclaimed, “Oh my God. I’m so happy to go home today. I deserve it. It’s over. My God, it’s over.”

Her lawyer, Jonathan Martinis, declared, “For anyone who has been told you can’t do something, you can’t make your own decisions, I give you Jenny Hatch — the rock that starts the avalanche.”

Dolores didn’t know it, but she was swept into that avalanche. Her case was handled through the Jenny Hatch Justice Project, which is run through Quality Trust and funded by the DC Bar Foundation to assist low-income District residents.

“For me, this is exciting because this is groundbreaking,” Whitlatch told Dolores that day at her apartment. “I hope this is going to transfer over to how we treat older adults. You being able to have this fight means maybe they won’t have to fight as hard.”

For Dolores, the court’s decision has simply meant she can now do what she has always done: take care of herself.

When she was 5 years old and growing up in South America, she said her parents used to put her on a train with her brothers, who were 4 and 6, and told her to watch them until they arrived at their grandparent’s house three hours away.

Later, when she moved to the United States, she worked for the State Department and then handled bilingual translations for several government agencies, including the Library of Congress and the Labor Department.

Dolores recognizes that she is not able to do everything alone now. But she said that for every problem she encounters, she knows whom to call. She has a person who helps her when she has health insurance issues and one who helps when she has medical questions. Recently, after someone stole her wallet, she knew exactly who could help her get a new Metro card.

“It makes you feel powerful to be in charge of your own life,” she said. “You can have a lot of help everywhere, but you are your own boss.”

Still, she said, she worries about the future, about whether one day she will be told that she can no longer live alone in her apartment.

She knows all too well what many of us, thankfully, have not yet had to learn — the suddenness with which life can change.

Full Article & Source:
This 87-year-old D.C. woman just made it easier for you to keep your independence

S’Park attorney indicted for allegedly stealing more than $150K from clients

A Sunset Park attorney was indicted on charges of two counts of second- and third-degree grand larceny and two counts of first-degree perjury in Brooklyn Supreme Court on June 25 after he allegedly stole more than $150,000 from his clients.

District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said the court would punish lawyer for allegedly betraying his clients’ trust.

“This defendant was entrusted to safeguard these funds, but instead allegedly stole the money and used it for his own purposes,” Gonzalez said. “We will now hold him accountable for his alleged criminal actions.”

Between 2014 and 2018, the attorney — who hails from the distant land of Pennsylvania — allegedly stole a $98,000 down payment in a real estate transaction plus a $55,000 client settlement, and ignored numerous attempts to contact him, according to Gonzalez.

He was released without bail and ordered to return to court on September 19, the district attorney’s office said.

Full Article & Source:
S’Park attorney indicted for allegedly stealing more than $150K from clients

Akron man, wife sentenced to prison for stealing $600,000 from man’s elderly father

By Stephanie Warsmith

An Akron man was in court Wednesday — though not in the traditional sense —for the sentencing of his son and daughter-in-law for stealing his life savings of $600,000.

Michael Kaplan, Story’s court-appointed guardian, brought a box containing Herbert Story’s cremains to the hearing and placed them on the podium.

“I promised him that someday we would stand side-by-side and say to his son and daughter-in-law that they had abused him and stole from him and, worst of all, that they had lied to him when he trusted them with everything,” Kaplan said. “So, today, I am keeping my word.”

Kaplan said Herbert Story, 78, died alone, penniless in a nursing home last June, wearing ill-fitting clothes because he had no access to his money that was stolen by Kevin Story, his son, and Crystal Hennacy, his daughter-in-law, and then tied up in the criminal case against the two of them.

Kaplan’s remarks were among the highlights in an emotional sentencing that concluded a theft case that had been pending in Summit County Common Pleas Court for a year and a half — and one that has raised questions about elder abuse and how victims of abuse are treated.

Judge Jill Flagg Lanzinger sentenced Kevin Story, who cooperated with prosecutors, to four years in prison and Hennacy to nine years. Story faced 11 years, while Hennacy could have received up to 14 years.

Hennacy left the courtroom screaming and struggling with deputies, clearly shocked by the length of her sentence.

“He took everything from me!” she yelled, referring to Kevin Story, whom she claims was more to blame for the theft.

Prosecutors say Kevin Story and Hennacy stole more than $600,000 from Herbert Story over several months in 2016. They say the couple had access to the elder Story’s accounts and used his money to buy a house, several vehicles, firearms, jewelry and a second honeymoon. The two were arrested in November 2016.

Story, 47, of Akron, pleaded guilty this month to theft from a person in a protected class, a first-degree felony, and criminal forfeiture specifications. Hennacy, 46, of Akron, pleaded no contest and was found guilty of this charge, as well as having weapons while under disability, which means she was prohibited from having a firearm.

Assistant Prosecutor Pete Daly said Herbert Story worked at Sugardale Foods for many years and was very frugal. He said Kevin Story and Hennacy, Kevin’s fiancee and then wife, gained access to Herbert’s money and began spending it in a manner the elder Story never had.

Story and Hennacy, who are now separated, and their loved ones and attorneys disagreed during their back-to-back sentencings Wednesday about who was most culpable.

Kimberlyn Story, Kevin’s sister, blamed Hennacy, saying her brother never got into trouble before he met her.

“She disintegrated into chaos our whole life,” Story said.

Because Kevin Story assisted prosecutors with the case, Daly recommended a four-year prison sentence for him.

Don Hicks, Story’s attorney, suggested that probation would be more appropriate. He pointed to his client’s cooperation with prosecutors, agreement to forfeit assets tied to the theft and lack of a significant criminal record.

Story said his father worked hard for his money and he and Hennacy wasted a lot of it.

“I don’t know how I can recover what’s been lost,” he said. “I accept responsibility for my behavior, and I know I should have watched out for my dad better.”

Lanzinger went with Daly’s recommendation, sentencing Story to four years in prison. She also ordered the forfeiture of a 2010 Harley-Davidson motorcycle, a 2005 Chevrolet Corvette, a 2007 Toyota Camry, a 2014 Chevrolet Impala, the funds in a Chase bank account, $25,000 in cash and several firearms. The proceeds will go to Herbert Story’s estate.

Daly recommended that Hennacy be sentenced to seven years in prison, saying she was more of a “driving factor” in the theft, including persuading Herbert Story to grant his power of attorney to her and Kevin. He also pointed to Hennacy’s prior criminal history, saying this shows she “uses dishonesty and deception for her own benefit.”

Jeff James, Hennacy’s attorney, said his client withdrew the funds, but the money primarily benefited Kevin Story. He said the vehicles and the Chase account were in Kevin’s name and the $15,000 in firearms were his.

Hannah Mallory, Hennacy’s daughter, said her what her mother did, she did at the direction of Kevin.

Hennacy apologized and said Herbert Story was like a father to her.

“I wish I could tell him how sorry I am,” she said. “I never meant to cause him no pain.”

Lanzinger went above Daly’s recommendation, sentencing Hennacy to eight years in prison for the theft charge and another year for the weapons charge, with the periods to be served consecutively, for a total of nine years.

“He died broken-hearted and miserable,” she said of Herbert Story. “He lived in a horrible situation.”

Kaplan, who was appointed as Herbert Story’s guardian by Summit County Probate Court, said he tried several times to get money released for Story to improve his living situation, but the requests were denied because the funds were evidence in the criminal case. The attorney, who often serves as a guardian, said this case points to a need for better coordination among the courts and social service agencies in assisting elderly crime victims.

“We need to get our hands around elder abuse,” he said. “We need to work together.”

Full Article & Source:
Akron man, wife sentenced to prison for stealing $600,000 from man’s elderly father

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Nurse admits she overmedicated hospice patients to death – but no murder charges filed

Brad Harris, CEO of hospice agency Novus
A Texas hospice nurse admitted she overmedicated two patients at the direction of her company’s CEO in order to speed their deaths, court records reveal.

But at this point, no one has been charged with murder.

Nurse Taryn Stuart is expected, instead, to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. The 34-year-old is one of 16 total defendants in a criminal case against them and their employer, Novus Health Services Inc. and Optim Health Services Inc.

Court documents obtained by the Daily News — and first reported on by the Dallas Morning News — say that Stuart acted out the instructions of Novus’ CEO Bradley Harris to “intentionally overmedicate” patients with drugs like hydromorphone and morphine “with the intent to hasten their deaths.”

The records show that Harris – who isn’t medically trained — texted Stuart that one of their patients “better not make it tomorrow. Or I will blame u.”

Harris routinely advised several nurses on patient care that included overmedicating and changing end-of-life directives and had doctors falsify prescription and death records, authorities allege. His instructions were carried out by registered nurses and licensed practical nurses or the staffers were swiftly replaced with someone, often Stuart, who would “do it right,” according to the documents.

A number of texts were discovered to be linked to the deaths of patients referred to as J.J and B.R in the court filings.

“I told this chick if she would just give her 1ml of Ativan and turn her she would die,” Harris wrote to Stuart about a lethal dose of a sedative is quoted in the documents.

“Yeah I bet a good few hours of 1ml Ativan and 2ml morphine q1hr would help that right along,” Stuart agreed with the CEO, using the medical shorthand “q1hr” to refer to each or every hour.

Similar texts about medications and doses that worked “like a charm” between Stuart and her supervisor-turned-co-defendant, Jessica Love, were noted in the report as well.

“turn off o2 (oxygen) or down to nothing if family at bedside… give 2 mg Ativan – 20 of morphine and start fresh with meds,” Love messaged Stuart.

“Those are the same things I always do…” Stuart replied. “Great minds think alike.”

At this point, the only pleas made by defendants in the case are in connection to fraudulent activity, not the deaths. It remains unclear why no murder charges have been brought against Stuart, Harris, Love or any other defendant.

"It's not the nature of law enforcement to ignore a higher and greater offense," criminal defense attorney Barry Sorrels told the Dallas Morning News.

The penalty for murder could be life in prison – regardless of the health status of the deceased, including hospice patients who likely didn’t have much time left to live.

"This has murder and conspiracy to commit murder all over it,” medical malpractice lawyer Jack Walker told the news site. “All of the distribution of controlled substance allegations stem around murder.”

"These intentional acts? This is horrific," Walker added. "This is probably the worst that you could see because all of this is for a business purpose."

Stuart’s conspiracy plea says that between June 2012 and September 2015, she defrauded Medicare and Medicaid by “admitting patient beneficiaries to Novus hospice service who were not eligible,” and later billing the government health offices for services that were never provided to anyone.

Her plea agreement states that she cannot be imprisoned for more than a maximum of 10 years and that the court can grant her a term of “supervised release” of just three years or less. The government, in turn, agrees that it “will not bring any additional charges against (Stuart)” based on the facts laid out in her plea agreement.

Full Article & Source:
Nurse admits she overmedicated hospice patients to death – but no murder charges filed

Atkinson Co. judge indicted after $430K goes missing

Marjorie O’Brien
ATKINSON CO., GA (WALB) - A Georgia probate judge has been indicted on charges of racketeering and theft by taking after nearly half a million dollars was stolen from the Atkinson County Probate Court's Office.

Probate Judge Marjorie O’Brien was arrested on January 27, 2017, and charged with one count of theft by taking.

An investigation was launched into the possible theft of funds by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation at the request of Superior Court Judge Howard McClain on January 17, 2017.

During the investigation, the GBI determined O’Brien had stolen approximately $430,000 from the Atkinson County Probate court's Office between 2010 and 2016.

On Monday, O'Brien was indicted by an Atkinson County grand jury on two counts of racketeering and 81 counts of theft by taking.

Atkinson County Sheriff David Moore says the whole situation caught him completely off guard.

"It's like a kick in the stomach. One it's a small county, everybody knows everybody. We may talk about you, but we still like you. It was hard. It's hard for a lot of people," said Moore.

The case is being prosecuted by the Georgia Attorney General's Office.

Full Article & Source:
Atkinson Co. judge indicted after $430K goes missing

PA grapples with increase in elder abuse

HARRISBURG – Cases of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation increased more than 13 percent in 2016-17, new state data show.

Caseworkers confirmed almost 19 reports of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation every day in the 2016-17 fiscal year, according to that data.

The number of substantiated cases of abuse, neglect or exploitation increased more than 50 percent over the same period just three years prior, according to data provided by the state Department of Aging.

There were 6,899 cases of substantiated abuse or neglect of Pennsylvanians aged 60 or older in the 2016-17, compared to 4,365 such cases in 2013-14.

The Aging Department has yet to publicly unveil its 2016-17 adult protective services annual report but provided the data at the request of the CNHI Harrisburg Bureau.

Secretary of Aging Teresa Osbourne said the data on abuse “is sobering.”

She said the increase comes from a number of factors, not the least of which is the  growing numbers of seniors in the state who could potentially be abused or exploited.

By 2020, 1-in-4 Pennsylvanians will be seniors and those aged 85-and-older are the fastest-growing segment of the population, Osbourne said.

The state has been working to make sure people know how to report abuse, she said. Allegations about suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation can by calling: 1-800- 490-8505.

Better cooperation between state agencies to recognize and respond to elder abuse, neglect or exploitation “is the third leg in the stool,” Osbourne said.

The agencies that serve seniors across the state have been straining to keep pace with the demands, advocates said Monday.

The budget signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf on Friday provides $2.2 million more for protective services for seniors, Wolf’s spokesman J.J. Abbott said.

Rebecca May-Cole, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of Area Agencies on Aging, said that caseworkers serving the elderly population appreciate the additional funding, but it is far short of what they project they need.

An analysis by her group put the price tag of meeting the demand for protective services at closer to $8 million.

Ray Landis, lobbyist for the AARP in Pennsylvania, said that agencies on aging confronting a spike in abuse, neglect or exploitation allegations will unquestionably make dealing with those cases their top priority. That will leave less funding for other services for seniors, he said.

May-Cole agreed.

“There’s only one pot of money,” she said. “If protective services is demanding a bigger slice of the pie, that means the other slices are going to get smaller.”

Those other services could include things, like in-home care or home improvements, like ramps, that allow seniors to remain independent and still connecting with the community. If the state can’t afford that type of assistance, then seniors may be more likely to become isolated and more prone to fall victim to neglect or exploitation, May-Cole said.

“It’s a Catch-22,” she said.

Abbott said that in addition to the new funding in this year’s budget, the state’s gaming expansion passed last year should help, as well. The gaming bill that legalized mini-casinos and sports betting also provided the Pennsylvania Lottery with the opportunity to offer online games and operate keno and “virtual sports” games in bars. Senior programs in Pennsylvania are funded by the Lottery.

If those new gaming opportunities generate additional revenue for the Lottery, it could put the state in a better position to allocate more toward adult protective services next year, May-Cole said.

Full Article & Source: 
PA grapples with increase in elder abuse

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Tonight on Marti Oakley's T. S. Radio: Hospice Survivors and Victims

5:00 pm PST…6:00 pm MST…7:00 pm CST ...8:00 pm EST
Please tune in at 8:00 EST to Hospice Survivors and Victims. Tonight we will hear about how Helen Crecigno’s life was literally taken by the culture of death. She wanted to live and hospice killed her against her daughter’s objections. Her daughter Angela was the Medical Power of Attorney for her mother and did everything she could to save her mother’s life.

We must listen and learn because these murders are happening all across America and the world. It’s called Stealth Euthanasia. We also refer to this as the modern day Holocaust. The culling of our elderly and disabled loved ones is happening right in front of our eyes. It’s terrifying that these institutions claim to be Good Samaritan companies; the truth is they are a killing machine. We need a nationwide movement to stop this!!!!!!!

LISTEN LIVE or listen to the archive later

Guardianship Abuse Keeps 74 Year-Old Man From His 100 Year-Old Mother

What do you do if you parent’s have money and your other siblings and their children want their money and or assets? With parents who have Alzheimer’s, Dementia or are just older this scenario can become a nightmare. When the court system gets involved the problem becomes even more confounded and the money that was once there goes down the drain.

Errol Rappaport
Errol Rappaport just wants to see his mother. Frances, Rappaport is 100 years, 6 months and 14 days old. Born in Odessa, when she was three years old she came over to America with her parents and six older brothers. She was moved from her long-time home at 200 Central Park South to a place in Queens. Her apartment was sold after a dispute between Rappaport and his two brothers. According to Errol Rappaport, he has been prevented from seeing his mother except with 48 hours’ advance notice, for a visit of up to two hours. Each visit is requested by email, for which the previous guardian, Madeleine Egelfeld, bills for 15 to 20 minutes at a rate of $450 per hour. Egelfeld was paid at least $12,000 to $20,000 per year beginning in 2013, and hired Ellyn Kravitz as her own counsel in the matter for a sum of $123,139 as of January 2018. Egelfeld also billed for hours spent communicating with Kravitz, so that both were paid for the same time spent, a common practice known as double-billing. Ironically Ms. Kravitz, serves on several committees with the judge in charge of this case.

The new guardian Sabrina Morrissey, is continuing the same policy, according to Errol. “It is inconceivable that I can’t go over to see my mother, hold her hand, kiss her forehead , tell her I love her. I am 74 years old, A Vietnam veteran of the United States Air Force. This is causing me undo anxiety, stress and it is Elder abuse on all levels. I am very concerned for my mothers health.” states Errol. “All I want is to have unrestricted access to visit with my mother on a daily basis. Every minute is precious.”

I personally watched as this travesty of injustice played out. I tried to speak to Ms. Madeleine Egelfeld to explain what I had personally been witness to, but she flat out refused. Rappaport’s brothers have decline to comment, when asked by other papers. Egelfeld also did not respond to a request for comment when the article by Alisa Partlan for

Alleged victims of guardianship abuse and trust fraud have come forward to say that New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office refuses to investigate their complaints. New York state’s adult guardianship system, is “broken, yet nobody seems willing to fix this. The Attorney General’s Office is the chief law enforcement officer for the state. It’s their responsibility to accept and process complaints for serious infractions,” says Dr. Sam Sugar, founder of Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship. “When they establish a policy of ignoring complaints that are well-documented, they are breaking their own laws and their oath to uphold the constitution of the United States and the constitutions of their individual states, all of whom make it clear that discrimination against anyone for any reason is illegal.”

Guardianship is designed to protect people who are incapable of managing their own personal, medical, and/or financial affairs due to mental or physical disability. A judge makes a determination that the individual is incapacitated and appoints a guardian for the person. The guardian then has the legal authority to make decisions regarding the person’s property and/or care, and are to consider the needs and wishes of the individual and choose the “least restrictive” interventions.

According to Michele Gartner, Esq., Special Counsel for Surrogate & Fiduciary Matters in the Office of Court Administration, there are more than 17,000 active open guardianship cases in the state of New York. Richard Black, director of the Center for Estate Administration Reform, estimates that there are closer to 60,000 to 80,000. Black estimates that 5 to 10 percent of adult guardianships are fraudulent to some extent, costing victims and their families approximately $10 billion nationwide each year.

In New York state, a 2016 study estimated statewide losses due to financial exploitation of the elderly at a whopping $1.5 billion; of those cases, 15 percent involved power of attorney abuse, 6 percent involved fraud, and 4 percent involved denial of access to assets. Within the city, thefts from guardianships have been reported for more than a decade.

On January 8, the New York State Senate held a round table on guardianship. No victims of guardianship abuse were invited to speak.

This subject is affecting many New Yorker’s, not just Errol and his mother. As we sit and cry out against the travesties in Mexico that are being manipulated by the press, why are we not crying out for the elderly that are being abused and the children who fight for their rights?

A lot of this article was written by Alisa Partlan for

Full Article & Source:
Guardianship Abuse Keeps 74 Year-Old Man From His 100 Year-Old Mother

Ex-lawyer allegedly stole $150,000 from clients

A former Brooklyn lawyer has been indicted for allegedly pocketing around $150,000 from clients’ escrow accounts.

Robert Parker pleaded not guilty Monday as he was arraigned on charges of grand larceny and perjury in the case.

Parker, who once had an office in Sunset Park, is accused of stealing nearly $100,000 of a real estate down payment, in addition to $55,000 from a client settlement.

“This defendant was entrusted to safeguard these funds but instead allegedly stole the money and used it for his own purposes,” Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said in a statement. “We will now hold him accountable.”

Parker, who was released without bail, is due back in court Sept. 19.

Full Article & Source:
Ex-lawyer allegedly stole $150,000 from clients

Bills would help combat elder abuse

Kate Klunk
According to the National Council on Aging, one in 10 Americans aged 60 or older has been the victim of some form of elder abuse. Some estimate that as many as 5 million senior citizens are abused each year. Another study estimated that only one in 14 cases of abuse are reported to authorities.

Chances are great you are related to or know someone who is a victim of this despicable crime.

To further combat elder abuse, I have teamed up with three colleagues to draft a package of legislation. We have circulated the co-sponsorship memos for these important bills and anticipate introducing them shortly. My bill will address using social media to share images of elderly patients.

Over the years, there has been numerous reports of care providers posting inappropriate images of elderly patients online. In one report, a nursing assistant recorded video of a 93-year-old Alzheimer’s patient in nothing but her bra. This video was then uploaded to social media – an undignified post for anyone to see.

As the granddaughter of a dementia patient, I take great offense to these actions as that woman could have been my dear “Mamaw.” That woman could have been your mother, grandmother or great grandmother.

In another case, humiliating images of an elderly patient covered in feces were taken and posted to social media by a care provider in Iowa.  In that case, the law, unfortunately, hadn’t kept up with technology. The care provider wasn’t criminally charged because the images didn’t meet the definition of sexual exploitation because none of the photos actually showed restricted content, such as the patient’s genitals.

This case is exactly why we need to update our laws so those who post these horrific images are dealt with appropriately. Our seniors deserve better and deserve to be protected by the law.

My bill would make it a misdemeanor for employees of care providers to post pictures of care dependent individuals without their permission.

The additional bills in the package would amend the Health Care Facilities Act to allow residents or representatives of residents to place electronic monitoring devices, such as cameras, in rooms with appropriate notices and consent of the facility and other residents.  Another bill would add a definition of financial exploitation to the Older Adult Protective Act. It would also establish a private right of action for certain financial crimes and add a $100 fee to those proceedings to create a Senior Trust Fund at the state Department of Aging.

Finally, the fourth bill would allow for concurrent jurisdiction for the Attorney General during financial exploitation investigations of care dependent individuals.

Elder abuse has increased over the past few years. Though I am working in the state House to combat elder abuse, there are some steps that can be taken to prevent the abuse from happening and it all begins with education. With June being Elder Abuse Awareness Month, I want to share information about elder abuse.

Elder abuse includes physical, emotional and sexual abuse, as well as exploitation, neglect, and abandonment. Perpetrators range from a victim’s children and spouses to staff at nursing homes, assisted living, and other facilities. Scammers who prey on the elderly are also perpetrators of elder abuse.

Signs of abuse are isolation, weight loss, bruises or broken bones, increased confusion, unusual withdrawals from bank accounts and signing over a home to another person. 

My office regularly partners with the York County District Attorney’s Office at outreach events where we provide seniors and their family members with fraud and abuse prevention tips. Some tips I want to share with you include; staying active in the community and with friends, as this will decrease social isolation; take care of your health; do not give out personal information over the phone; review your will and bank accounts periodically; open your own mail; and seek independent advice from someone you trust before updating or signing legal documents.

If you are the victim of elder abuse, or if you suspect someone you know is a victim, please don’t hesitate to report it. Report incidents to your local police department by calling 911 or call the 24-hour abuse hotline at 1-800-490-8505. 

Rep. Kate Klunk is a Republican from Hanover.

Full Article & Source:
Bills would help combat elder abuse

Monday, June 25, 2018

Secret VA nursing-home ratings hid poor quality care from public

Nick Bonanno pushed his father, Russ Bonanno, down the hallway at the VA in Bedford.
World War II veteran Rosario “Russ” Bonanno was facing worsening dementia when his family took him last year to the Department of Veterans Affairs nursing home in Bedford. He had been in assisted living, but after six years, some family members thought he needed more specialized care.

Within days after Bonanno arrived, his son Nick said the 94-year-old was “dazed, confused, disheveled” as staff began medicating him. And he wasn’t the only resident who looked drugged. “Everyone looks like a zombie,” Nick said.

What Nick and his family didn’t know was that the Bedford facility ranked among the worst of 133 VA nursing homes across the country, in part for giving so many residents antipsychotic drugs.

The agency has tracked detailed quality statistics on its nursing homes for years but has kept them from public view, depriving veterans of potentially crucial health care information. Nearly half of VA nursing homes nationwide — 60 — received the agency’s lowest ranking of one out of five stars as of Dec. 31, 2017, according to documents obtained by USA Today and The Boston Globe.

The VA finally made some of its ratings public last week after receiving questions from the Globe and USA Today about all the secrecy. VA officials claimed that President Trump wanted to release the ratings all along and blamed the Obama administration for not making them public earlier.

Statistics the VA has not released paint a picture of government nursing homes that scored worse on average than their private sector counterparts on nine of 11 key indicators last year, including rates of antipsychotic drug prescription and residents’ deterioration. In some cases, the internal documents show, the VA ratings were only slightly worse. In others, such as the number of residents who are in pain, the VA nursing homes scored dramatically worse.

The worst-performing VA nursing homes in the ratings were scattered across 32 states, including Pennsylvania, which had five one-star facilities, as well as Texas and California, which had four each. The VA facility in Bedford and another in Brockton were the only one-star nursing homes out of six in New England.

But VA officials argued that the nursing home system overall “compares closely” with private nursing homes despite caring for typically sicker residents.

VA spokesman Curtis Cashour called it “highly misleading” to compare pain levels at the VA to private nursing homes because VA residents have more challenging medical conditions.

The VA quality tracking found that its nursing home residents were five times more likely to report being in pain than private nursing home residents.

Cashour added that 60 VA nursing homes have improved their ratings over the last year, while only one had a “meaningful” decline.

“We are committed to continuous improvement efforts in all of the [VA nursing homes] and demonstrating performance that is as good [as] or better than private sector facilities,” Cashour said.

The VA’s hospitals have drawn intense criticism for repeated scandals with veterans’ health care in recent years, including preventable deaths, but the agency has largely operated its nursing homes with scant public scrutiny. VA nursing homes serve 46,000 veterans annually in 46 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Internally, the agency has long monitored care at its nursing facilities through quality indicators and unannounced inspections, and, since 2016, through star rankings based on the indicators. But until now, it has kept all of these quality measures from the public.

Under federal regulations, private nursing homes are required to disclose voluminous data on the care they provide. The federal government uses the data to calculate quality measures and posts them on a federal website, along with inspection results and staffing information. But the regulations do not apply to the VA.

The VA has “got this whole sort of parallel world out there that’s hidden,” said Robyn Grant, director of public policy and advocacy at the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care. “I still can’t get over that this information is not available to people who are looking for a veteran’s home; that’s just unacceptable.”

VA spokesman Cashour blamed the Obama administration for resisting making quality data public. “But under President Trump’s leadership,” he wrote in a June 12 statement, “transparency and accountability have become hallmarks of VA.”

However, the VA’s decision to release the quality data came after first asking USA Today and the Globe for more time to answer questions about the secret ratings. Then the VA released the quality ratings while the reporters waited for answers.

The agency did not release the more detailed information that underlies the star ratings, such as rates of infection and injury.

Alex Howard, a transparency advocate and former deputy director of the Sunlight Foundation, said the VA should release all the data immediately — and on an ongoing basis. He said the underlying information is critical to understanding what the stars mean..

“There shouldn’t be a gap between the reality of how we’re treating people under the government’s care and public understanding of it,” said Howard. “This is not a situation where we’re concerned about some matter of national security, this is simply being honest about how well things are going.”

‘I was told how good it is — by VA, of course’

After 38 years of marriage, Leslie Roe made the gut-wrenching decision to place her husband in a nursing home.

Earl James “Jim” Zook, 72, was suffering from dementia and had taken to wandering away from their home in Coosada, Ala., and she worried she would lose track of him.

So Roe moved Zook, a Vietnam-era Navy veteran, into a VA home an hour away in a rural, wooded swath of Tuskegee. She said VA staff put a bracelet on his wrist warning he was a flight risk and placed him in a secure ward.

But just three months after Roe checked Zook into the Tuskegee facility, staff lost track of him. Zook simply walked out into the woods; Roe said she was told there was a faulty door.

She had no idea that the facility ranked among the worst VA nursing homes in the country last year, scoring only one out of five stars in the agency’s rankings. She had to rely on what the VA said.

“I was told how good it is — by VA, of course,” Roe said

The VA assigns stars based on 11 indicators that can be tip-offs to larger problems with overall quality. For example, high rates of falls or bed sores may indicate understaffing or neglect.

The Tuskegee nursing home scored worse than private nursing home averages on eight of the 11 criteria as of Dec. 31, 2017, including rates of residents being in pain, receiving antipsychotic drugs, and contracting urinary infections.

Ironically, this year, the Tuskegee nursing home improved from one star to two stars. But that was too late for Zook.

He hasn’t been seen since he walked out of the Tuskegee facility in January 2017. Searches by helicopter and with tracking dogs turned up nothing.

“We finally declared him legally dead,” Roe said earlier this year. “Because there was no way he could have lived without his medication.”

“Anybody that deals with VA, I feel sorry for them,” she said.

Cashour said that after Zook’s disappearance, which he called an “unanticipated outcome,” the VA implemented more safety measures, including adding GPS to an alarm system that notifies staff if patients leave the facility.
11veterans -- Nick Bonanno pushes his father, Russ Bonanno, down the hallway at the VA in Bedford. Nick visits his father several times a week to push him around the building in his wheelchair along with throwing a ball around. Nick tries to engage his dad as much as possible when he comes to visit. (Kelsey Cronin)
Kelsey Cronin
Nick visits his father several times a week to push him around the building in his wheelchair along with throwing a ball around.

‘They break their spirit’

The VA has relied for more than a decade on an outside company, Wisconsin-based Long Term Care Institute Inc., to conduct inspections of VA nursing homes and report back to the agency.

The VA banned the public release of institute reports after the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in 2009 published the findings from one report detailing “significant issues” at the VA nursing home in Philadelphia, including poor resident grooming and pest control. In one case, a patient’s leg had to be amputated after an infection in his foot went untreated for so long his toes turned black and attracted maggots.

The VA said the reports are internal quality-assurance documents “protected” from disclosure under federal law. However, in their announcement last Tuesday releasing the nursing homes’ star ratings, VA officials said they would also release the long-term care reports. They didn’t say when.

Such reports might have been helpful to Bonanno, the WWII veteran whose family moved him from a private assisted-living facility to the Bedford VA last April as his dementia worsened.

An inspection report obtained by The Boston Globe shows reviewers from the Long Term Care Institute found several instances of neglect at the nursing home in April 2017. They saw a veteran lying in bed covered only by a urine-and-feces-stained sheet. They saw another veteran struggling to eat, using his hands to shove food in his mouth after trying unsuccessfully to maneuver food onto a spoon. Staffers were nearby, the report said.

By then, inattentive patient care in Bedford had already proven to be fatal to one resident. Vietnam veteran Bill Nutter died in 2016 while an aide who was supposed to check on him hourly allegedly played video games on her computer and didn’t check on him at all. She later resigned, and Nutter’s family has sent a demand letter to the VA seeking $10 million in damages.

Bonanno’s family would learn about the conditions the hard way.

His son said Bonanno, a happy-go-lucky retired mechanic, would always wake up early for breakfast. But for the first few months in the Bedford facility, he was fast asleep when his son arrived after 11 a.m. for a visit. According to Nick, the staff woke him up at 6 a.m. to put him back to sleep.

They gave him an antipsychotic drug and a sedative, Nick said.

“They medicate them until they break their spirit and make them passive. I guess it’s easier for the staff to deal with them,” Nick said. “In six years in assisted living, he’d never been medicated during the day.”

Staff told Nick that his father was “agitated” and needed the medication — a contention Nick disputes.

Cashour said many of the veterans at Bedford live with “chronic mental illness” related to their military service and require psychotropic medication “to reduce distress and manage behavior.” After the veteran is stabilized, he said, the VA works to reduce the use of these drugs.

Nick’s brother, Russ, who lives in Indiana, said that he and his sister, who also lives outside of Massachusetts, believe that their father’s overall health has improved and he is properly medicated.

“My sister and I both agree he’s getting care that’s high quality and appropriate for his needs,” he said.

Still, Nick said as their father became more and more groggy, he participated in fewer activities; he went from walking with help to sitting in a chair for hours, doing nothing.

“There are ways to care for people with dignity and allow them to be themselves,” said Nick, who plays catch with his father indoors, using a small rubber ball, when he visits several times a week.

“I was lucky to have Dad in a place that was pretty good for six years. It was a huge drop-off in the way they provide care at the VA versus a private facility.”

Full Article & Source:
Secret VA nursing-home ratings hid poor quality care from public

Democracy vs. Oligarchy

by David Arnold

This is the third in a series of articles on democracy in the United States. The first was “The death of democracy in the Probate Court,” posted at

The second was “We the people and accountability of lawyers,” posted at

We have all been taught since childhood that the United States is a democracy. I used to just accept that without questioning it. However, democracy is not automatic. It is a constant struggle to make sure no individual or entity takes control of the whole government.

The United Stated has the structure of a democracy with three different branches of government. There are supposed to be checks and balances between the three branches to prevent abuse of power by any one of the three branches of government.

The tripartite system of government is commonly ascribed to the French political philosopher Baron de Montesquieu. Having three branches of government is a necessary but not sufficient condition to insure a democracy. Montesquieu pointed out an additional requirement. The personnel of the three branches must not coincide. If a single person or entity controls all three branches, this destroys the checks and balances. The government ends up being an oligarchy.

The website claims that this has, in fact, happened in the United States. This article, entitled “America is now an oligarchy,” states:
  1. An oligarchy (Greek oligocracy) is a form of government in which power effectively rests with a small elite segment of society.
  2. Lawyers currently make up approximately only one third of one percent of the population of the United States.
  3. Lawyers currently control over 85% of all local, state and federal government, including the legislative, judiciary, and executive branches. The remaining 15% all use lawyers as policy advisers and authors of any new laws.
The Judicial Branch is obviously controlled entirely by lawyers. You don’t have to look at very many biographies of legislators to realize that the majority of legislators are lawyers. The legislature is supposed to represent a cross section of the general public. It is clear that two of the three branches of government are controlled by lawyers. A disproportionate number of governors and presidents are lawyers. The office of the district attorney in the executive branch is controlled by lawyers.

A government controlled by a profession that constitutes only a third of one percent of the population is not a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.”

The danger that the United States could end up being controlled by an oligarchy was recognized very early in the history of our country. The article starts with the quote, “It is a very dangerous doctrine to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions. It is one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy.” – Thomas Jefferson, letter to W. C. Jarvis, 1820.

The legal profession is entirely self-policing. This violates the principle that no entity can be its own judge. In my article on “We the people and accountability of lawyers,” I pointed out that the Constitution does not deal with the special case of lawyers. Although the original Constitution does not deal with this issue, archival research expert David M. Dodge claims that the “missing” 13th amendment of the Constitution was intended to prevent lawyers from serving in government.

On the website, David M. Dodge states the following:

“If the evidence is correct and no logical errors have been made, a 13th Amendment restricting lawyers from serving in government was ratified in 1819 and removed from the US Constitution during the tumult of the Civil War. Since the Amendment was never lawfully repealed, it is still the Law today. The implications are enormous.”

The amendment is also called the “Titles of nobility amendment.” The Wikipedia article on the amendment is posted at

The amendment was passed on a vote of 19-5 by the Senate on April 27, 1810 and on a vote of 87-3 in the House of Representatives on May 1, 1810. The Wikipedia article disagrees with the interpretation by David Dodge that the intent was to prevent lawyers from serving in government. By December 9, 1812 the amendment was ratified by 12 of the 13 states needed for ratification. The Wikipedia article says that the amendment was never ratified by the required number of states. However, David Dodge has shown that the proposed 13th amendment was printed in copies of the Constitution up until the Civil War when it was replaced by the current 13th amendment prohibiting slavery.

The controversy over the meaning of the amendment and whether it was ever fully ratified may never be resolved. However, if lawyers had been prevented from serving in government, we would not now be living in an oligarchy ruled by a single profession that does not represent the population as a whole.

Full Article & Source:
Democracy vs. Oligarchy